Announcement: Intro

Hey folks. Welcome! I’m a novice poet who created this site just to have a place with permanent links to my writing that I could share. I don’t claim this stuff is any good. I’m learning, and sharing the fruits of my learning, is all. Hope you find something here that you like.

You can browse via the categories or tags to the left. (If you appreciate being made a bit uncomfortable, try the tag askew.) Or, here are a few suggestions:

About people, values, and choices:

About relationships and community:

About childhood and growing up:

About climbing the mountain:

About glimpsing the summit:

About animals:

About wierd sh*t:

Enjoy…or something.

Peace,
Mike

On No Longer Being the Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything

So Wednesday comes and goes and with it this
long year will perish too. And I will miss
and wonder at its passing; but I’ll owe
thanks for wisdom briefly mine to know.

For once my forty-third year has its start,
all pretense of great insight will depart.
The “me” that will remain will have to quest:
fish aimlessly for clues, like all the rest.


This was written for a class exercise: write a poem using some constraint. I wasn’t really getting anywhere with this exercise – ironically, it offered way too much freedom! Any constraint? What constraint? I struggled with that for a long time, and eventually decided to just try something fun for my upcoming birthday, when I’d turn 43. Which means I’d no longer be 42, which is rather significant for fans of Douglas Adams’ seminal humor/sci-fi series The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, wherein it is revealed that the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything is the number 42. (Ah, but what is the question? That required a bigger computer….) So the joke is that I’m getting done with my stint incarnating that great Answer. The constraint (other than the iambic pentameter and rhymed couplets) is that each line begins with one word from another crucial phrase from that series: “So long, and thanks for all the fish.” That was the text of the message that the dolphins left for the humans, just before the former fled the Earth to escape its demolition (to make way for an intergalactic highway construction project).

It’s doggerel, but I actually ended up enjoying the exercise. 🙂

adventure time

picture us intrepid as we pierce the hem of suburb-land
we say bye-bye to sodium light and gloom already gathers glowers
trees crowd round like hoodlum bands not menacing but watching
        wary
only on the sides so where they’re not well that must be our trail

custard cups in hand we amble onward minding murky forms
as shifting shadows shimmy at the edges of our shaky sight
every now and then the phantoms also feature sound effects
what up wild creature please be wee and not the toothy fatal kind

we’re holding hands not only out of tenderness but to avoid the
slips and trips on toppled trees to fall and fracture something good
the dark congeals around us and it squeezes giggles from our lips
we can’t keep on forever right i mean it’s getting mighty dim

finally a crisis see a cheeky creek will cross our path
ok it’s maybe one inch deep and plus there are these stepping stones
but still it’s dark as triple chocolate ripple hot fudge brownie custard
so we fasten hands again turn tail and take a hike toward home

Erasures of a BP press release

This was an exercise for the class I’m taking – create a poem via “erasure” from an existing text – i.e., use only the words in the text, “erasing” the ones you don’t need.

The text I started with was this BP (British Petroleum) press release.

For the first one, I constrained myself to only move forward (never backward) through the original text, picking words as I went. Here’s what I came up with:


the evening the horizon died

the evening the horizon died
we deeply recognize the friends
and those who burned for hours before
the gulf was closed and sealed

the failure followed from
the subsequent initial impacts
on the livelihoods of those
we put in place to help the government

to compensate the people
and the economic tourism
we have conducted studies
and committed knowledge spills


Following some encouragement from one of the course moderators to try different constraints and be more experimental, I tried again without the “never move backward” constraint and came up with this tragicomic tale:


deepwater horizon: a lust story

and we were people, working, independent
we sought to take responsibility
involved and closed, a seal, long-term committed?
this accident does happen…capping life

the evening of the wider exploration
ignition, research, knowledge, and release
– discoverer of natural horizon! –
the fire, it burned for hours; response was full!

and ultimately…subsequent explosion
tremendous blowout, failure of control
and look: how swiftly sealed in this deepwater
assurance of regret, impact, and loss


Here’s a Google Doc I used to make sure I wasn’t cheating with the second one. 😉

release

i woke up early
in a home that wasn’t mine
felt the sunlight streaming in
through the window
making shadows on my face
like the bars of a cell

the light told me
i could be seen
so i got up
and left
and waited for night

later
crossing the bridge in the dark
i could see almost nothing
but it was clear
on the other side
the possible paths sprouted
like the branches of a grafted tree
bowed with a varied assortment of fruits

none of them ripe
all of them somewhat
sour

but i gave thanks
for at least i had a choice
and it beat being back in the cage
with my rotting intentions

in the valley of innocence

in the valley of innocence, jennifer faltered
quite suddenly she was uncomfortable there
and she didn’t remember her reasons for coming
she couldn’t recall how to breathe such clean air

and the problem was not that she didn’t feel welcome
(the valley would throw wide its arms to us all)
while the land opened to her, benign and inviting
to jennifer’s eyes the place just looked so…small

could she really remember a time when the tips
of the trees in that wood rose above line of sight?
and the ramparts protecting the bounds of the glen
…now that she could step over them, didn’t seem right

so a half-smiling jennifer left that green land
in her eye was a look like a cat with a toy
that she’d just realized she’d completely dismembered
it wasn’t a sorrow nor fully a joy

Enlightenment (a sonnet)

Enlightenment, I’m told, is like a bloom;
A lotus-flower opening full wide;
An end to all the passions that consume;
A cleansing of the filthiness inside.
For all these years I’ve waited for that birth.
The appetites that came, I pushed away.
I understood that such things have no worth –
Denied my longings every endless day.
At last in my old age, I know I’m near.
There’s naught within my breast but wish to see
Cessation even of that hope so dear:
Desire’s departure; mere serenity.
    And now my eyes are open! All I feel
    Is craving ninety lifetimes could not heal!

meander

i turned around and realized
the thought i’d had was gone

i looked inside my heart to find out
if i really missed it
and in the process even lost
the memory of the thought
but my heart recalled a craving
so we started on the hunt

i put my fingers on the keys
and off they cantered, aimlessly
i said to them “we’re here to work
and you just want to mess around!”
but they ignored me, tapping onward
snicker-smirking at my frown

i looked down at my hands, just riding
passengers of finger-fancy
“aren’t you lazy clods supposed to
be enforcers, take control?”
but of course the mitts ignored me
pushed a shrug up to my shoulders
and leaned back to revel in the ride
…i sighed and went along

when at last my wayward fingers
headed back into the stable
well, we hadn’t found the thought
but we’d picked up some lovely burrs

my silly heart (whose fault this was)
admitted it was satisfied
so in the end we got where we were going
i suppose

Still Death

On a Tuesday in November
Death was wandering

The truth? She was bone-weary
For the work of Death is ceaseless
Nonetheless she does take breaks
(Everybody needs some downtime
Now and then)

On the border of the wood
She found a deer skull
Sun-bleached, gleaming white

She bent, and picked it up
Remembering well the one who’d owned it
But then she stared, almost forgetting
The soft gaze of that gentle doe

Death was transfixed
By the delicate lattice of bone
Stretching like lace
Between its eyes
And where some unknown incident
Had chopped off the front of the skull
Graceful spirals of paper-white
Could be seen
In the nasal passage

Death smiled
And placed the skull gently
On a nearby stump
Next to a tiny heap
Of orangey-brown leaves

Now
Whispered Death to herself
Maybe someone will see
This dead deer
Resting on a dead tree
Garnished by dead leaves
And think
For a moment
Of me

And perhaps that witness
Will say, ah
Death is cruel
But she is also beautiful

perfect

perfect
is a silly word

it’s a downright ridiculous word

for the love of all that’s real
and fantastic

for the sake of every flawed and gorgeous thing
lavishly pouring out beauty
into this world

get thee behind me, “perfect”

you
ruin
much

but like so many
boneheaded ideals
“perfect” gains a lot
in practical
everyday use

in which the perfect
is wide
and merely wonderful
and makes room for
so many possibilities

(not just one thing
which really
is no thing)

in the land of the actual humans
you can receive four perfect gifts
at the same birthday party
(and i hope that you do)

and you can sink into the soft embrace
of the end
of a perfect day
still gently buzzed
by the sweet and savory anticipation
of an even better one to come